Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Improve your P90X

When my dear friend gave me her P90X workout set I was so excited. The program looked great, and it was very organized. But then I had to listen to Tony Horton give instructions and it drove me insane. When I am lifting weights I want to focus on what I am doing, not listen to the babbling instructor who is making fun of the other exercisers and doing impressions.

So I tried the "CUE ONLY" feature which helps a lot. You see his lips moving but you don't hear him unless he is about to tell you what to do. But the problem was, I had already memorized his babble, so I could still hear it in my head.

But I think I have solved the problem and am adding some P90X back into my workout regimen.

So far, these things have been key:

1. It has been so long since I've last done it, I have forgotten what he is babbling about.

2. I use the "CUE and SILENCE" feature and play my own music instead.

3. I follow along with the exercise sheets and will stop playing the actual DVD once I have memorized the moves.

4. I only do P90X 3 days a week (strength training) to cut down my exposure to Tony's babble.

5. I am already used to doing an hour of weights, which is how long the DVD program is.

I started this plan on Monday and only told him to shut up once, so that is great progress. And it helps to know I only need to listen to him for a few weeks until I memorize the exercises. Plus, my back and chest were burning up that night, so I also got a good workout.

Wish me luck (again)!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Bag It Up

I had been drooling over the sandbag workouts featured in Men's Health Magazine and BodyRock but didn't want to pay $100 or so for the fancy sandbag. So I made my own.

1 medium size military grade duffel bag 19L x 10W ($10)
4, 7 lb. bags of fragrance free kitty litter ($1 each)

= my $14, 28 lb sandbag

I think the bag might be larger in size than a comparable one with sand, but the price was right, I didn't have to measure anything or divide it up and place it into separate bags. And I don't intend on doing any of the fast paced moves where you swing the bag around. We all know that I will just end up smacking myself in the head. It was so fast and easy I was able to test it out in the parking lot of the store.

I am slowly adding it to my HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workout. As I have stated before, you don't always have to jump high in order to add intensity. I do side lunges (hugging it to my chest) or front/back lunges (holding it on my shoulders) and it makes my heart rate skyrocket.

It's always fun to have a new piece of exercise equipment and it's extra fun when it is dirt cheap.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Get Milk, Get Muscles

Within the last few months, because I am trying to build more muscle*, I have upped my protein intake. I try to vary my sources throughout the day (lean meats, beans, cheese, soy, Greek yogurt, eggs, fish and nuts) but sometimes it can be a challenge to come up with a quick meal that hits the spot. So I started investigating protein powders. I will ignore the whey protein vs. casein protein debate raging and just point out that the protein powder usually tastes so bad on it's own that some sort of sugar or sugar substitute must be added.

In addition, there are usually all sorts of gnarly things added to the powder. In my quest to eat as much real food as possible, my need to eat lower Glycemic index food, and my desire to not go bankrupt from buying what is essentially a waste product, I have decided that protein powder is not for me.

But the ease of a quick protein shake is hard to beat, so what did I find instead? Milk. Yep, just regular old 1% milk (soy milk works too). I often have it plain, but I also appreciate chocolate every once in awhile. Of the various chocolate sources I reviewed, I went with Rich Chocolate Ovaltine. It has the least amount of ingredients, it is easier to measure than a syrup, and it has regular sugar rather than high fructose corn syrup (which spikes my blood sugar less).

And chocolate milk is currently the darling of the nutrition/fitness world. Have you seen all the Got chocolate milk? ads chock full of Olympic hopefuls?

So go for simple protein: milk. Just make sure to leave me at least a gallon per week!

* Yes, it is working!!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Keep That Heart Rate Up

When doing aerobics, achieving a certain heart rate is key. But what if you can't do high impact aerobics because it hurts your knees, back or joints?

Well, there are four other ways to increase heart rate while still being low impact.

1. Increasing speed

2. Adding weight

3. Adding an incline

4. Adding a decline

For example, start off with a basic exercise: marching in place. After a few weeks/days of this exercise, your body will adapt and you will find it harder to get the heart rate you are after. So you must make the exercise harder.

You can:

1. March faster (Increase speed)

2. Hold dumbbells or other weights in your hands while marching (Adding weight)

3. Walk up stairs or step on to a bench (Adding an incline)

4. Turn your marches into front lunges (Adding a decline)

 Heart rate monitors are key for figuring out which movements keep your heart rate up, so wear one every time!

Eventually, you will begin to combine the moves: marching faster while holding the weights, holding the weights while stepping onto a bench, or holding weights while doing front lunges. When you have gone through all the combinations you can do the final one: step up with knee raise and curl.

So don't be frustrated when your low impact cardio doesn't get your heart rate up, just change it up by 1) increasing speed 2) adding weight 3) adding an incline or 4) adding a decline.

Trust me, your knees and heart will thank you.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Step Away From The Screen

I cannot believe that just a year ago, I would spend hours and hours online. I would often be doing "legit" stuff but a lot of my time was spent updating my Twitter account or checking out Facebook. Deleting those accounts and stepping away has been so extremely peaceful for me.

In addition to deleting those accounts, I try to spend as little time on the computer as possible. After all, I find I get my best ideas away from the screen: doing dishes, working out, taking a shower, walking/sitting outside, or just sitting quietly.

So I urge you to step away from the screen (TV, computer, phone) for a while and just be. You are more important than your follower count or your klout score. Honor yourself by actually spending some time with yourself.